Notre Dame: Common Ground, or An Appeasement?


Considering the interest in
President Obama’s remarks at Notre Dame, it would seem he has found
a solution to the bitter controversy over abortion. But in fact his
address was not about abortion. It was about dealing with conflict in
a democracy – and it avoided the central question in the conflict
over abortion: how do those with diametrically opposed views live peacefully
together when one wants to vanquish the other? It’s not a new question,
but President Obama is seeking a new direction, which may be troubling.

The president asked:

As
citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous
debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight
for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly
held convictions on the other side?

 

And he gave this answer:

…open our hearts and our minds to those
who may not think like we do or believe what we do [because] that’s when we discover at least the possibility of common ground." 

My experience of 13 years in
the pro-choice movement is that "common ground" has become another
term for compromise on reproductive choice. In other words, achieving
common ground will be accomplished by diminishing the ability of women
to make decisions about abortion, whatever the personal cost. That’s
unacceptable.

It’s unacceptable for even
one woman to suffer in order for opponents of abortion to be appeased. 

In our democracy, we believe
in standing up for the rights of the disenfranchised, the vulnerable,
those without power; we don’t compromise them away. We should not sacrifice
women’s lives in the service of calming controversy and tempering anger
over an issue that has become political.

When I, a pro-choice Christian
pastor, counsel a woman about abortion, I try to help her search for
the decision that is right for her and, if she wishes, others in her
life. Her decision is private and individual, a matter of conscience,
personal circumstances that she knows best, and medical facts that only
she and her doctor know. The last thing on my mind is "common ground." 

The President rightly wants
us to lower the decibel level of the debate over abortion, to stop using
loaded terms such as "right-wing extremist" and to treat each other
with fairness and civility. But he also acknowledged that, "at some
level," there were "irreconcilable differences" over abortion
between the "two camps." Now, if you accept that women are full persons
in the eyes of God and the law and if you understand justice to include
equality, then you cannot stop working for women’s control over childbearing.
"Irreconcilable differences" over abortion are just that – and
the question now, as the Obama administration attempts to work out policies
to reduce unintended pregnancy, is how to reach a respectful agreement
that honors these differences, not how to back down gracefully.

President Obama’s call for
reducing abortion by reducing unintended pregnancies and making adoption
more available ignores the complex emotional and psychological reality
of sexual relations and personal decisions. Finding common ground about
abortion is not the same as finding common ground about global warming
or economic stimulus. Abortion is about an individual woman’s life
– her decision, her destiny – and there can be no compromise when
it comes to her conscience.

The President went to Notre
Dame to promote understanding and cooperation and he openly addressed
the issue of abortion while anti-abortion demonstrators protested outside.
He spoke to the United States and to the world about finding a way "to
live together as one human family." That’s admirable, but he should
have also recognized the individual woman who stands alone, needing
to make a decision of conscience. For her, there is no question of easing
tensions between opposing camps. There is only her decision – and
that is what we must honor in any attempt to find common ground on abortion. 

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  • truth

    51% Pro-Life / 42% Pro-Choice

    Obama knows this, and so you will start to see a shift in Obama’s stance on the subject because he has his radar set to re-election in 2012. You can’t follow a leader that stands for everything to everyone. Furthermore, the sleeping traditionalists are now awake. Obama actually woke them up due to his extreme liberal dogma. Grass-roots has taken hold and unfortunately for the extreme left this isn’t good because the majority of Americans are traditionalists. Most Americans believe in the U.S. Consitution. They’ve allowed it to be manipulated by decisions like Roe vs. Wade, Hate Crimes Legislation and Government Takeover of the Private Sector(s).

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/118399/More-Americans-Pro-Life-Than-Pro-Choice-First-Time.aspx

    • http://bjsurvivor.livejournal.com/618.html#cutid1 invalid-0

      I do not think this means what you think it means. 63% of American are for embryonic stem cell research, which “pro-lifers” to a one oppose. Polls depend very much upon the wording, so I’d certainly like to see how this poll was worded, because polls taken in the same time-frame show that there is still a majority pro-choice.

    • invalid-0

      That 68% of Americans do not want abortion to be illegal. So, just what have you “gained” in this poll? The majority of Americans, pro-choice included, think that they are also pro life. Just like GW Bush, who was killing people at a record rate in Texas, some who had lousy lawyers and some who were even believed innocent, well that is NOT pro-life, as well as killing millions of innocent Iraquis and sending over 3 thousand of our soldiers to their death for an illegal, unprovoked, war. Yet Bush and other moronic Americans in the anti-choice movement consider him pro-life. NOT!!! Born named, live sanctioned by a birth certificate persons are much more important than zygotes or fetuses that are dependant on a woman’s body for their very existence. Abotion should be safe, legal, and unrestricted for any woman who wants one, screw common ground!! I am both pro-choice, and pro born live birth certificate sanctioned life! As are many of my fellow Americans.

  • truth

    On another note: I think you might just go with your title as Dr. and leave of the Rev. part. You might be judged a little less harshly by God at end times. His sheep might, in some cases, look to you for advice and God doesn’t like when wolves dress in Shepard’s clothing. Have you read the Bible? If you claim Christ as your Savior you must protect His most innocent. You are not protecting them.

    • invalid-0

      You are making a statement that the reverend will be on the bad side of God. How do you know this? You are not God. Remember the cast the first stone? If you are sinless go ahead otherwise it is better not to say these things and make judgements at all.
      This is the biggest problem in this world. It is the so called God followers against the so called heathens. Neither side can say they are absoulutely right because none of us is God or even knows if God according to the very sexist, ownership bible even exists. Just because you believe in the bible does not mean that I have to follow it.
      Another problem it is do as I say not say as I do. What are you doing behind everyones backs while you are preaching to the heathens? You are only a mortal. I do not listen to mortals or men. I listen to what I feel is right not what some male dominator expects of me. I would die first!!!

      • invalid-0

        just look at the arrogance of such a name, Truth. I think that he is a retired or disgraced Catholic hierarchy person hiding behind a keyboard, trying to tell us what to believe and do, it makes me laugh. The truth is, as long as a zygote or feuts resides in someone else’s body, it is subject to eviction if not wanted, as it should be. Only a woman knows whether she is prepared to nurture and love and provide for a fetus once it is born and becomes a living, breathing,human in our society. Her life, her decision, and I am not sorry if that offends people like Truth, but it is a FACT.

    • invalid-0

      Keep that in mind the next time you have that steak,chicken or fish. You are eating a LIFE that was. If you can stop eating dead animals maybe i would listen. Do what you say . Prove it Prove it

  • progo35

    From this post, it doesn’t seem like you want to find any common ground at all, Reverend, you just want the other side to capitulate to your views or take a hike.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    • invalid-0

      “Well behaved women seldom make history.”-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

      I’m curious: why pick a quote that practically screams feminism and then constantly make comments and suggestions that would take us years back in women’s rights? You seem to be at once advocating women to “behave badly” to change history and then making statements that women are wrong for behaving in a way that you consider bad? The irony is just killing me.

  • invalid-0

    It’s not capitulation to have the pro-choice and pro-life sides work on things like increased contraception and comprehensive sex ed to reduce unwanted pregnancies. What the good Reverend is pointing out, however, is that a “common ground” approach cannot compromise on the autonomy of the woman.

  • progo35

    For instance, can we not compromise by having a more reasonable time limit on abortion?

    • invalid-0

      over 90% of them, the answer is NO.

  • truth

    The problem begins with contraception. Break down the word:

     

    CONTRA = AGAINST

    CONCEPTION = BEGINNING

     

    AGAINST the BEGINNING. WE, as a society, are against procreating (i.e. LIFE). WE are contracepting ourselves out of existence. Until we begin to honor life in all of its stages, we will continue to have abortions because the mentality of a society against life is going to kill their children, disabled, sick, and elderly. Quality of life to us is defined as Happiness – that is – whatever makes us happy is what we should do. If you don’t want a child even though you enjoyed the process of procreating then get rid of him/her. After all, you have a right to be happy and if that child gets in the way of your happiness then kill them. Why not kill the old lady that can’t cross the street quite fast enough for you? We all know that abortion is sick and demented (otherwise we wouldn’t all agree on having less of them) so why don’t we work toward ridding ourselves of this pyschotic narcissistic behavior. Why?

    • emma

      Truth, you seem confused, not to mention a bit hysterical. Apparently you’re not understanding that contraception is not the same thing as abortion. You’ve already illustrated in previous posts that you lack a basic understanding of what socialism is. You also appear to be unaware that not everyone subscribes to your fundamentalist religious dogma. Is there anything about which you’re not thoroughly confused?

  • invalid-0

    I assume when you say “WE,” you mean Caucasians?

    Because ‘we’ the human species are most certainly not “contracepting ourselves out of existence.”

    at 6 billion and counting, we’re in no danger of going extinct anytime soon. We might run out of water, and arable land. But we’re doing quite well as a species.

    Unless of course- you don’t consider non-Caucasians human?

  • invalid-0

    I agree with Rev. Veazey and am always reassured when I hear such a strong feminist voice from a man. Many of us, myself included, are strong supporters of President Obama. And believe that some compromises can be made, such as greater access to and information about family planning methods for all women. But from the pro-woman perspective, as the Rev states, the bottom line sits with an individual’s right to choose. Which is why I also appreciated President Obama’s remarks on how both sides of the argument can and should appreciate the “heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.” This argument is ABOUT the individual, and that should not be lost in the policy debate.

  • invalid-0

    Right on, Rev. Veazey! I absolutely agree that compromising women’s self-determination and autonomy is NOT the appropriate path to common ground. I believe that the prochoice position IS the common ground position – protecting individual rights, and allowing each person to make the best determination for themselves in relation to their religious and philosophical beliefs.

    • invalid-0

      Thanks to Dr. Reverend Veazey, a man who loves, appreciates, and respects women. I love a feminist man who appreciates the autonomy and equality of women!

  • invalid-0

    I am an escort at my local medical clinic that provides abortions. Last Saturday, I and the clinic owner were discussing the recent polls that indicate that more people now consider themselves Pro-Life, instead of Pro-Choice. I escort because a high-school classmate died from a back-alley abortion and the owner had to travel to Washington, DC, where abortion as legal pre-Roe v. Wade, from where she was going to college. The owner and I both agreed that we are Pro-Life. That’s why she runs the clinic and I am a volunteer escort, because we are Pro-Life.

  • invalid-0

    “It’s unacceptable for even one woman to suffer in order for opponents of abortion to be appeased.”

    I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for an excellent piece, Rev. Veazey. You very eloquently said what I have been wondering: how do we find common ground when both side’s underlying beliefs inherently conflict? You’ve certainly give me food for thought.

  • paul-bradford

    I couldn’t possibly have been more pleased with the president’s address to the Notre Dame class of ’09 even though I anticipated considerable blowback from the Pro-Choice side. I expected great things from him and he exceeded expectations. (He also gave an excellent commencement to the midshipmen today following his superb address at the National Archives Gallery yesterday. The guy is on fire!)

     

    The two goals of PLCC are:

    1) To advance the cause of justice for the unborn, never forgetting to pray for their health and safety.

    2) To promote respectful and productive dialogue between people of differing perspectives on issues related to the well being of the very young.

     

    Obama made a great plea for our second goal. He also made an interesting comment that I know some people on this ‘site will disagree with:""Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually, it has both moral and spiritual dimensions."

     

    Who agrees with the president there?  Especially when we’re talking about first trimester abortion.  Especially in parts of the country where abortion is safe, legal, convenient and affordable. 

     

    In what way is the abortion decision a "heart wrenching" one?  It seems to me that only applies in cases where the woman involved has come to understand the truth — which is that the biological event inside her uterus is not simply a ‘clump of cells’ but her actual child.

     

    What are the "moral and spiritual dimensions" to the decision if you don’t accept the idea that a developing fetus has a value all her own or all his own?  

     

    Obama knows what some people are still coming to understand: Justice for the unborn is everyone’s issue.  It’s not simply a religious belief.  It’s the belief that other people have the right to be treated as well as I am.  I’m more than happy to confess to a desire to ‘shove that belief’ down people’s throats!

     

    Rev. Veazey wrote, "In our democracy, we believe in standing up for the rights of the disenfranchised, the vulnerable, those without power; we don’t compromise them away.

     

    Those words stir my heart.  I believe them.  A concern for the ‘vulnerable’ and ‘those without power’ is what gets me up in the morning.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

     

     Please read two new articles on the PLCC website: "Why I Am Pro-Choice" and "Shouldn’t We Be Open To Better Ideas?"

  • progo35

    Anon-I don’t know where you got the "Caucasion" thing from the above statment, but it’s quite a lovely diatribe into an accusation of racism that has no basis. 

     

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    • invalid-0

      That wasn’t an accusation of racism so much as it was a point that the WORLD population is growing, even if the CAUCASIAN population is lessening, and therefore the statement that we are “contracepting ourselves” into extinction or whatever is untrue. The population of the world is growing. So unless you’re only talking about the specific population of Caucasian humans, what “Truth” said isn’t true. THAT was the point of the comment. The last sentence was just someone being snarky.

  • aspen-baker

    Rev. Veazy,

     

    I always appreciate your insight and thoughts.  I couldn’t agree with you more about the idea that "common ground is another term for compromise" which I address in my blog post here on RHRC, "Peace for the Abortion War, Part II" (http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/03/04/peace-abortion-war-part-2-symbolic-concession-not-compromise).

     

    I write that in a conflict over human dignity, "we cannot ask opponnets to split the difference."  While I believe that any effort for common ground is admirable, without giving attention to the issue of human dignity, resolution will be awfully hard to find, and will only prolong the divisive conflict.  

     

    Where I think we disagree is about how to resolve the conflict.  Abortion does mean different things to different people.  You stated what it means to you and many others quite clearly, and yet, that meaning is not shared by all. Which keeps the question in play: how do you resolve conflict in a democracy?  Unfortunately, conventional wisdom sees conflict resolution as a win-lose, i.e., does your side win or do you sacrifice your values in a compromise?  This strategy can certainly resolve conflict in the short-term, but it does not provide the necessary conditions for lasting peace.  

     

    Rather, a pro-active, respectful, engaged process for conflict transformation should invite new voices to participate, and it should be led by those most affected by the issue.  I believe that our job as leaders is to create the environment and the opportunities for this to happen.  Together, we can open and expand the dialogue and we cannot do this without listening to those whose views are different than our own.   

     

    Every day at Exhale we work to not only support and counsel women after an abortion, but to create real opportunities for their stories to be told publicly and for their voices and experiences to drive debate.  Today, there are millions of women who have made that decision and yet those stories remain in silence.  We must do our part to change the climate so she never feels alone.  Without her real, lived experience shining a light on these contentious issues, we have nowhere to go but to stay locked in conflict.  

     

     

     

  • progo35

    Aspen-excellent post. You really make sense out of this whole issue and speak with empathy for both sides.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • paul-bradford

    Ms. Baker,

     

    I read the post you referenced and was delighted to discover that a person of your talents is willing to work to bring peace to the abortion wars.  We need all the talent we can get!

     

    I notice that you work to create opportunities for women to share the stories of their abortion experience.  Do you know of any place that opens up opportunities for the fathers of children who died in an abortion?  I am such a father, and the experience of losing my child has certainly been the force driving me to participate in Pro-Life activities.

     

    If I ever had an opportunity to talk about what happened, I would want to emphasize the fact that of all the things that I regret doing or not doing, and all the things I wish other people had or hadn’t done, I have never, ever, ever wished that, during the time my child was alive, abortion had been illegal.  That’s why I feel so uncomfortable with most Pro-Life groups and why I have been so happy to be a member of PLCC.

     

    If I were to name the ‘root cause’ of my child’s death, I would say that it was lies and confusion.  The lie that sex can be divorced from reproduction, the lie that at any phase in our lives we are anything less than fully human, the confusion between working for the betterment of the unborn and working to restrict access to abortion.

     

    I believed a lot of lies at that time, and I was confused.  If I didn’t believe lies I would never have been responsible for getting a woman into trouble.  If I didn’t believe lies I would have acknowledged my responsibility to my child and advocated for his/her life.  If I weren’t confused I would have understood that my distaste for abortion restrictions (which has never waned in me) did not mean I was powerless to take responsibility for my own behavior.

     

    If abortion had been illegal at that time it would have only served to make a very bad situation much worse.  The situation was more than bad enough as it was, and mothers and fathers are still getting into the trouble I got into because men and women are still being told lies about the connectedness between reproductive power and life.  I hope I’m never guilty of trying to take choice away from a woman in trouble.  Women need more choice, not less.  But I am very eager to dispel lies — they cause a great deal of harm.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • emma

    That was a fantastic post. Thank you.

  • invalid-0

    The lie that sex can be divorced from reproduction … But I am very eager to dispel lies — they cause a great deal of harm.

    Speak for yourself, Paul! You may not be able to separate sex from reproduction. Some others may not either, and the Catholic Church certainly doesn’t think much of it. But millions—billions, possibly—of people do it regularly, responsibly, and healthily, and it adds beauty and pleasure to their very human lives.

    Seriously, it’s like you’re a recovered alcoholic saying, “It is a lie that there is any amount of alcohol that can be consumed without damaging your life and the lives of others.” Nevermind that many, many, many people have real-life experience that completely contradicts your “insight”; you’re just going to state your piece, and blithely presume not only that it is directly applicable to everyone, but also that your experience is inherently worth more than everyone else’s.

  • invalid-0

    Where is the equal empathy and compassion for the baby in these discussions?

    Where is the outrage that babies are being killed, even when they accidentally survive the attack in the womb and are born alive?

    Where is the demand for responsibility for the actions taken to conceive instead of the voracious aggression against anyone who is concerned about the baby, the effects of abortion on the mother, the effects of abortion on our society, and the unarguable idea that God Himself would actually sanction abortion except in the most extreme of circumstances?

    Why is the priority always that the woman and the man donating the necessary elements to make a baby are accommodated in every way possible so they are not inconvenienced while the baby is minimized, ignored, relabeled, rejected, and destroyed?

    Consider, Reverand Veazey and friends: Man is made in the image of God(mother,dad,baby). The belief that human life is valuable and should be esteemed originates from God’s value of man. Everyone depends upon this understanding and belief every day, whether you believe in God or not. Christ died for human beings as a clear indication of the inherent value of people.

    The hypocrisy is glaring. Selfishness is exalted and narcissism is coddled by the pro-abortion on demand advocate. Would you like to argue the non-human status of the fetus in the womb? Would you like to be honest and argue that it matters not to you that you were concieved, gestated in the womb, and not aborted before you were birthed from that womb?

    By your own arguments you declare that human life is so precious…especially that of the pregnant woman…that this would justify abortion.How more diabolically absurd could any reasoning as this be? The fear mongering and hardness that considers this to be the de facto solution to unplanned pregnancy is stunning.

    There is no consideration for the baby in the womb in these typical one sided self absorbed rants. No cherishing of human life but for the people more fully developed that can over power the absolutely helpless.

    What seems obvious is that, with the possible exception of a threat to the survival of the mother, the implied vote of yes by the unborn to be allowed to survive the gestation period in the womb has as much bearing, and maybe more, because of its innocence and absolute vulnerability. (If you doubt that the survival instinct is questionable in the unborn, it has been proven otherwise.) The responsibilities and uncertainties of child bearing are not enough to dissipate and minimize the absolute miracle that each birth of a new and unique human baby brings forth. This is lost as other less valuable commodities are perversely elevated above the value and sanctity of a human life.

    The efforts of all of us can be focused on solutions that do not result in the destruction of a human life.

    The path of least responsibility,least inconvenience, least self sacrifice, least value of human life, is the only way to arrive at a choice for abortion. Not to mention that God Himself cherishes human life more than anyone and we would all do well to be concerned about what He thinks.

  • invalid-0

    UC, you want to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. To argue for that, all you have to offer are points of faith that not everyone accepts—and we are not a theocracy like Iran, where the government can give them the power of law.

    I’m sure that if you had a uterus, you would never, ever, ever have an abortion. But all the millions of other uteri out there? They do not belong to you, you do not get a say in how they are managed, and your attempt to argue that you do makes you about as creepy as the guy who drives this vehicle.

  • emma

    Unconfused, I’m an atheist. Why on earth should I care what you believe your god thinks?

     

    Sorry, but you do not get to impose your religious beliefs on me. Plus, what goes on in my uterus is none of your business, and I find it incredibly creepy that anyone would think otherwise.

    • invalid-0

      Thank you for your post, I wholeheartedly agree and love your response. I too, am not religious, consider myself agnostic, and refuse to live by other people’s mysogonist, self serving, religious dogma. I think that it is really nervy that people think that they can try to stick their noses where they do not belong in people’s lives and body processes,, rather than try to help with the plenty of born, named, live REAL human beings that exist and are suffering in the REAL world. I see it as people using religion to try to keep women held back from being autonomous. When you help babies born in poverty, you are helping women too, and the intent of anti-choicers is more often, quite the opposite.

  • paul-bradford

    We have three disagreements.  One is whether sex can be divorced from reproduction; a second is whether there are ‘insights’ (as you call them) that are directly applicable to everyone; and a third is whether these insights are based upon ‘real life experience’ that can be judged more valid if they’re experienced by one person than if they’re experienced by someone else.

     

    To begin with your example.  There certainly are recovering alcoholics who apply the ‘insight’ that they cannot safely drink any amount of alcohol  to everyone and assume, incorrectly, that NO ONE can drink alcohol safely.  (You and I could also challenge the idea that there really is no way for them to drink safely but we’d really be going far afield if we tackled that issue.) 

     

    Let me propose a different example.  Suppose we were talking, instead, about a recovering bulimic who had the insight that she’d gotten into trouble by divorcing eating from nutrition and arrived at the conclusion that the purpose of eating is nutrition and any kind of eating that is contrary to the goal of nutrition is also contrary to physical and mental health.

     

    Guess what, she’d be right!  Does that mean that people suffering from one sort of addictive malady have better insights than those suffering from a different malady?  No.  Because the truth the insight has nothing to do with the ‘personal experience’ (good or bad) of the person having the insight.

     

    Certain actions have very specific purposes.  Sex is one of those actions, so is eating.  Alcohol is a separate case — probably because it’s so extraneous to our survival.

     

    Paul Bradford, Pro-Life Catholics for Choice 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

    • invalid-0

      Um, sex is ALWAYS divorced from reproduction for me. I’m on hormonal birth control and use condoms with spermacide. No way I’m getting pregnant. I’m having sex because I love my boyfriend and because its FUN. Maybe in your wacko world every sexual experience leads to a baby, but for the rest of us (and there are a lot of us) sex doesn’t and won’t have anything to do with reproducing. And thank goodness for that. I’d be a horrible mother. But I sure do like sex. And eating, which I do for fun and for social reasons, and not just for nutrition. And I’m happier for it.

  • invalid-0

    Suppose we were talking, instead, about a recovering bulimic who had the insight that she’d gotten into trouble by divorcing eating from nutrition and arrived at the conclusion that the purpose of eating is nutrition and any kind of eating that is contrary to the goal of nutrition is also contrary to physical and mental health.

    Guess what, she’d be right!

    Oh, so eating is only about nutrition, then! The pleasure one receives from eating quality food, from sharing a meal with friends and loved ones, from experiencing one’s culture and background in the choice and preparation of dishes… all that counts for nothing. We should just have food pills, to deliver nutrition in the most efficient manner possible, and free up time for more worthy pursuits.

    Paul, for someone who affirms that we are never anything less than fully human, you certainly seem to be ignorant of the value that basic human pleasures bring to our lives. Can these pleasures be abused? Most certainly they can. But the proper response is to heal these people (wherever sensible) so that they can safely and responsibly partake of these riches of the human experience—as most people do—rather than argue that no one should.

    As for you, it’s probably more an ideological bent that makes separating sex from reproduction not practicable for you, and I’m not going to say that this is something that you need to be “healed” of. But whatever it is, it is you, and other people are not like you. I mean, I like Coke over Pepsi, but I’m not going to presume that people who prefer Pepsi are self-deluded or hoodwinked by some grand “lie.” Don’t confuse self-knowledge with knowledge about humanity. In anthropology, that’s called “ethnocentrism,” and it’s very easy to fall into that [intellectual] trap.

    • paul-bradford

      I realized after I posted a response to you that my reply was inadequate, and it was inadequate because I neglected to consider that what I meant by divorcing sex from reproduction is different from what you mean by divorcing sex from reproduction.  (I now see that I can say the same about our different understandings of what it means to divorce eating from nutrition.)

       

      First of all, the Church understands four things to which I completely agree:

      1) Not every sexual act results in the production of a child.

      2) Not every couple engaging in sex intends to have a child.

      3) Procreation is not the only purpose of sex, there is also the purpose of expressing love between the partners.

      4) Many people having sex have made a diligent effort to prevent their sex act from resulting in the production of a child.

      All four things are true and valid and none of these things were what I meant by ‘divorcing sex from reproduction’.

       

      What I’m concerned about is the attitude that sex is ONLY for purposes other than procreation.  It’s an attitude that can lead people to disregard the possibility that their sex act might actually end up doing what sex is designed to do which is to produce a child.  It’s also an attitude which makes it very likely that your child will either be aborted or live a very unhappy life (and also make those around him/her unhappy.)  Both of these options are horrible so I’m very much against the attitude that leads to those options.

       

      It seems to me that if there’s a risk that sex might result in procreation the people engaging in sex have to account for the fact that they need to be ready, willing and able to care for a child in the event that conception happens.  If they aren’t ready to do this they’re divorcing sex from procreation.

       

       

      Paul Bradford

      Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    Wondering what you think of this thread on Catholic Answers Forums. We’d welcome your opinions: http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=332384&page=21

  • invalid-0

    First of all, the Church understands four things to which I completely agree:

    1) Not every sexual act results in the production of a child.

    2) Not every couple engaging in sex intends to have a child.

    3) Procreation is not the only purpose of sex, there is also the purpose of expressing love between the partners.

    4) Many people having sex have made a diligent effort to prevent their sex act from resulting in the production of a child.

    All four things are true and valid and none of these things were what I meant by ‘divorcing sex from reproduction’.

    1. Yes, but is the Church okay with couples taking measures [other than NFP] to ensure this outcome? Last I checked, they’re down on all artificial contraception.

    2. Yes, but does the Church then require that “oops!” pregnancies be allowed to run their course? Intent doesn’t count for much if you’re forced to submit to your own biology.

    3. Yes, but if #2 holds true, then this duality of purpose becomes little more than a cynical ploy to get people to have more kids whether or not these are wanted.

    4. Yes, but the Church will frown on you if said diligent efforts include anything other than NFP—one of the least effective forms of contraception out there.

    Now, if you say that you in good conscience disagree with the Church on the use of artificial contraception and the validity of engaging in sex without procreating [and without being required to roll the dice on procreating], THEN that would be a different matter.

    What I’m concerned about is the attitude that sex is ONLY for purposes other than procreation. It’s an attitude that can lead people to disregard the possibility that their sex act might actually end up doing what sex is designed to do which is to produce a child.

    It seems to me that anyone who gives even a passing thought to contraception prior to engaging in sex would not be disregarding the possibility that pregnancy may result. In fact, it seems that the only people you would be worried about are those who are completely ignorant about the sex act (as in, never having been told about “the birds and the bees”) and somehow engage in it without a clue as to what might result. Even given the sorry state of sex education in this country, how many people are that utterly unaware that sex can lead to pregnancy? Even people who believe in contraceptive myths still at least know that they need to be careful.

    • paul-bradford

      You know, you’ve been a very good correspondent on this thread.  It’s too bad you post as ‘Anonymous’ ..  You don’t have to reveal your name, as I do, but if you were even willing to give yourself a cute moniker I’d have something to call you.

       

      It seems to me that you present two issues:

      1) Your conviction that the Church gives people bad direction on the question of artificial contraception.

      2) Your conviction that the Church has ‘bad intent’.  That is, that the reason she says what she says about contraception is that she wants us "to have more kids whether or not they are wanted".

       

      You’re wrong about the second point.  Even in Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul praised ‘responsible parenthood’ and cited two reasons why couples should be careful not two have too many children: 1) overpopulation and 2) the inability to care for children you can’t afford.

       

      As far as the first point goes, I can only say that you have a great deal of company in your conviction.  (See "The Pope’s Comments on Condom Use", March 26, in my blog.) I wonder if you realize, though, that Paul was hopeful that there would be medical advances in the effectiveness of NFP.  Again, in Humane Vitae, he makes a special plea to doctors and scientists to perfect the practice.

       

      What’s most important to explore, in your comments, is this:

      Does the Church then require that "oops!" pregnancies be allowed to run their course? Intent doesn’t count for much if you’re forced to submit to your own biology.

      Try to look at it as something other than a Church "requirement".  What the Church does is to advocate for the civil rights of the very young.  Many a woman is making an  abortion decision absent the understanding that the biological phenomenon going on inside her womb is her actual child for which she has primary responsibility.

       

      These children are at risk because so many people have been taught the wrong things about the lives and rights of very young people.  The Church’s role is not to issue requirements, her role is to teach the world the truth.  She doesn’t require that people become Catholics before sharing the truth with them.

       

      Do I agree with the ‘validity of engaging in sex without procreating’?  Yes, of course.  I’ve done it many times and intend to do it many times in the future.  I don’t, however, think it’s "valid" to engage in sex if you’re not ready, willing and able to run the risk that you and your partner will have responsibility to care for a child in the event that your attempts at contraception prove to be inadequate.  That’s what I was referring to when I spoke about ‘divorcing sex from reproduction’.

       

      Sex can sometimes have lethal consequences.  The Church, as well as anyone who cares about life, has to speak out against unwarranted risks with people’s lives.

       

      Write back.  Or post a response on my ‘blog.

       

      Paul Bradford, Pro-Life Catholics for Choice 

       

       

       

       

      Paul Bradford

      Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    Paul, you do realize the one-sided implications of your pov, don’t you? It is disingenuous to suggest that women do not bear the disproportionate negative consequences of unwanted pregnancy, yet you skate over this with… “and your partner”…as if men are equally subject to the physical, emotional, social and economic toll of unwanted pregnancy.

    Such is not the case.

    • paul-bradford

      ahunt,

       

      The focus of this thread has flipped back and forth between two interrelated, but distinct questions:

      1) How can we reduce incidents of unintended pregnancy?

      2) In the event of an unintended pregnancy, how to we protect ‘at risk’ children?  Particularly in the months leading up to their births.

      I’m guilty myself of not always zeroing in on which question we’re looking at.

      Your comment is, of course, right on the money if we’re talking about Question #2.  In those situations, no matter how much support is offered to her, the mother bears the burden of her child’s life.  I certainly recommend that we do all we can to reduce the "physical, emotional, social and economic toll" facing women but — and you and I agree about this — no factor is anywhere near as important as the mother’s willingness to give of herself to her child.

       

      On the other hand, I was thinking about Question #1 when I talked about the partnership of a man and woman who are having sex.  Each of them, prior to conception and prior to sex, bear an equal responsibility to be ready, willing and able to do their share to care for any child they may be creating.  This care, by the way, is over the long stretch of time that a child needs care.  We can’t be like the people who, to use Barney Frank’s words, "believe that life begins at conception and ends at birth".  It is the part ‘after birth’ that demands responsibility from BOTH parents — and couples should be willing to take the risk of becoming responsible when, and if, they elect to have sex together.

       

      Paul Bradford, Pro-Life Catholics for Choice 

       

       

      Paul Bradford

      Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    You’re wrong about the second point. Even in Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul praised ‘responsible parenthood’ and cited two reasons why couples should be careful not two have too many children: 1) overpopulation and 2) the inability to care for children you can’t afford.

    Then His Holiness sure had a funny way of translating that concern into church law. It’s tantamount to saying, “You should drive carefully, so that you don’t get into an accident and injure yourself. But you may not use seat belts.”

    Fundamentally, the Church has never gotten past the whole “be fruitful and multiply” directive. They want their followers to breed like rabbits, and do their best to ensure that sexual satisfaction cannot be obtained without at least running a chance of that. That’s why it still considers masturbation, officially, to be a mortal sin. Remember the tale of Onan?

    As far as the first point goes, I can only say that you have a great deal of company in your conviction. (See “The Pope’s Comments on Condom Use”, March 26, in my blog.) I wonder if you realize, though, that Paul was hopeful that there would be medical advances in the effectiveness of NFP. Again, in Humane Vitae, he makes a special plea to doctors and scientists to perfect the practice.

    This, from a church that scoffed at holding Mass in the vernacular until the 1960s. Funny that Paul would invite advances in the use of NFP, while prohibiting modern pharmacological solutions on the basis of their being “artificial.” Don’t you think it’s a little odd that the Church is open to embracing new technologies for spreading the Gospel (radio, television, the Web, etc.), and yet on this one issue, they take the 100% crunchy-hippie-Luddite route?

    As far as I’m concerned, NFP is embraced only because it is one of the least effective forms of contraception out there. Couples using it are playing Russian roulette, and the Church is all too happy to have people lose from time to time. I’m pretty sure that if there were some form of NFP that yielded a reliable 99%+ effectiveness rate, it would be rejected by the Vatican as yet another “artificial” anathema, regardless of how “natural” it was. At the end of the day, they do not want to open the door to people having sex without a potential pregnancy being a concern.

    Try to look at it as something other than a Church “requirement”. What the Church does is to advocate for the civil rights of the very young. Many a woman is making an abortion decision absent the understanding that the biological phenomenon going on inside her womb is her actual child for which she has primary responsibility.

    This is where we part ways, Paul. The Catholic Church is on record as opposing an abortion for a nine-year-old girl pregnant with twins—a pregnancy that her body would not be physically capable of carrying to term. Which tells me quite conclusively that the Church’s claim to advocate for “civil rights” in abortion scenarios is completely, utterly, entirely void.

    My view is that, in a rather literal fashion, the Church simply does not know what it is talking about, when it makes pronouncements on abortion. There are no women within the power structure, and the men who are, are all celibate. For them to lay down the law on abortion is like having the Amish draw up highway traffic laws. They simply aren’t capable.

    The Church, in its current form, and for all of its history, has never served women. A lot of women are Catholics, of course, and draw their spiritual nourishment from the Church. But the Church has never been able to have the same empathy and compassion for women as it has had for men. And as long as it remains a patriarchal institution, this will continue to be the case. I envision that sometime way down the line, like the year 2500 or 3000, the Church will shed this aspect of its nature, welcome women into the fold (maybe even a female Pope?), and put into force a morality that shows genuine empathy for women and their unique reproductive role. But until then, ordinary Catholics need to take up the slack, because the Church’s current position is hurting many, many women in the here and now.

    I don’t, however, think it’s “valid” to engage in sex if you’re not ready, willing and able to run the risk that you and your partner will have responsibility to care for a child in the event that your attempts at contraception prove to be inadequate. That’s what I was referring to when I spoke about ‘divorcing sex from reproduction’.

    I recall that, a century or so ago, a Catholic prelate spoke out against penicillin, because it could be used to treat syphilis—and thereby escape the consequence imposed by God for fornication. That argument never found much traction, because the notion that “when you do X, you run the risk of Y, and if Y happens, you must accept it,” when there is a perfectly valid means of pre-empting Y, is kind of silly. It’s that selective Luddite-ism again. What’s next, the Church is going to say we’re not allowed to take advantage of air travel, because it moves us faster than God intended?

    Oh, but you say that there’s a very young, very tiny unborn child at stake here. Well… you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t find this concern terribly convincing. For one, many people have carried this to the ridiculous extreme of equating a fertilized egg to a grown human being. (Ridiculous, because where else in Western society do we have a tradition of caring so much for something so small and insubstantial? The closest thing I can think of are Jain monks, who sweep the floor in front of them as they walk so they won’t crush ants. That would seem silly to most of us, and yet here we have all these people suddenly out-Jaining the Jains themselves?)

    For two, at the political level, why is funding for children’s health insurance and welfare programs such an also-ran? If politicians were really so gung-ho about “helping” women and their unborn children, how much more dedicated would they be to born children in their most formative years? Children’s programs would be a political third rail, like Social Security. No one would dare touch them, for fear of being deemed anti-child. And yet… this shining example of moral consistency is not what we have today. When programs like these are proposed, they get voted down by Republicans with jeers of “socialism,” “they should get jobs!” Why, do you suppose, is that?

    I’ll give you my answer: Some pro-lifers really do care about unborn children, and having them be brought to term. Most, however, care about the fetus only to the extent that it serves as a rallying point and pretext for bringing women’s sexuality under control. What the Catholic Church, and the pro-life movement in general fears most is not a dead fetus, but a horny woman who enjoys sex, gets a lot of it, doesn’t submit to a marriage or other such “proper” relationship, and doesn’t suffer any of the consequences (STDs, pregnancy) that they believe she so richly deserves.

    If it really, truly were all about the fetus, the abortion debate would be what the death-penalty debate is today—an underpinning of Catholic advocacy, but otherwise an inconsequential sideshow in mainstream U.S. society. If people were okay with horny, promiscuous women (to the extent that they are okay with horny, promiscuous men), the fervor would just not be there.

    • paul-bradford

      I find it invigorating to discuss matters with you (but I still wish you would come up with a name for yourself).

       

      I’m of the opinion that there are many ‘anti-abortion’ enthusiasts who have no right to call themselves "Pro-Lifers".  Critics of the Pro-Life movement are right to complain about those who bemoan the immorality of abortion but are perfectly willing to accept the death penalty, the invasion of Iraq and CIA sanctioned torture.  I would rather participate in a rally for Life that had ten people who were Pro-Life through and through than ten thousand whose commitment to Life Principles only coincided with concern about those not yet born and were wishy-washy about the other Life concerns. 

       

      "Where else in Western society do we have a tradition of caring so much for something so small and insubstantial? The closest thing I can think of are Jain monks, who sweep the floor in front of them as they walk so they won’t crush ants. That would seem silly to most of us, and yet here we have all these people suddenly out-Jaining the Jains themselves?

       

      A conceptus is ‘small and insubstantial’ but there aren’t so many of them that it would be impossible to give them good care.  According to my arithmetic, four hundred zygotes are formed every hour — that’s throughout the entire United States.  A zygote, unlike an ant, is able to develop into an adult human being so I think we’re not being Jainsically hyper-vigilant to take pains with these ‘small and insubstantial’ treasures. 

       

      "The Catholic Church is on record as opposing an abortion for a nine-year-old girl pregnant with twins—a pregnancy that her body would not be physically capable of carrying to term. Which tells me quite conclusively that the Church’s claim to advocate for "civil rights" in abortion scenarios is completely, utterly, entirely void.

       

      Please read my blog entry  Does the Church Have Compassion from March 16.  The fact that the Church has a number of bishops who aren’t ‘up to the job’ doesn’t give me an excuse to slack off on my responsibility to the civil rights of my fellow human beings.

       

      The biggest area of disagreement between you and me, I think, is not around the issue of what the Church does so much as it is why she does what she does.  We arrive at different conclusions because I don’t believe that the impetus for Church action comes from the hierarchy of celibate males.  I think it comes from God’s merciful desire that we should all be happy.  You and I will agree that this impetus is mediated through the actions of individual Catholics who are, of course, vulnerable to every sort of shortcoming known to humanity.

       

      Are there Church authorities who are more terrified of "horny promiscuous women" than they are of disappointing God’s will that we should all be joyful?  I expect that there are.  But I also know that the job of every faithful person is to generate joy and that’s what my top priority is. 

       

      Paul Bradford

      Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    Um, sex is ALWAYS divorced from reproduction for me. I’m on hormonal birth control and use condoms with spermacide. No way I’m getting pregnant. I’m having sex because I love my boyfriend and because its FUN.

    You, madam, are awesome. Please have lots and lots of hot, sweaty, thobbing, baby-free sex. Oh, and bon apetit :-)

  • ann-stone
    As the founder of Republicans for Choice in 1989 http://www.republicansforchoice.com , I would like to address three things being discussed:
    1) The Gallup poll that purports the majority of Americans are "pro-life’,
    2) That common ground means compromise and
    3) That Well Behaved Women…quote and what it really means….
    1) The Gallup Poll misleads and misrepresents…the label war of so called pro-life vs pro-choice is simply a reflection of the PR jockeying done over the last decade mostly over the so called "partial birth abortion" legislation. Those who call themselves pro life won that round in public relations and that has distorted the use of that label.  If you ask, many if not most, who now call themselves pro life, they will still tell you it should be the woman’s choice.  They think if they are personally opposed to abortion that means they are pro life…but if they still would trust the woman to make the choice (and want her not government to have the power to do so) that actually in fact makes them pro choice…
    We have polling (as do others) that shows this is true even among Republicans that the overwhelming number of Americans (65% plus) still think the individual should decide not government.  Roger Rosenblatt an award winning journalist did extensive study and wrote a book in 1992 on these two overlapping truths in America…folks want abortion strongly discouraged with government limits (not outlawed) but ultimately want individuals to make the decision. 
    We all need to push the major pollsters to go back to including a question on "Who decides" if they insist on the self labeling question.  Only then do we really know where Americans stand.
    2) Search for Common Ground which is headquartered in DC would probably strongly disagree with Dr.Veasey’s conclusion that seeking common ground must mean compromise. 
    Common ground when sought under their thoughtful,structured and principled process results in greater understanding between the two sides. Further I have watched real agreement reached in this process on areas that do not mean compromise but mean real constructive advancement on policy that actually can impact the rate of unintended pregnancy (after all is the ultimate reason for abortion). So when done right it can mean a real positive principled outcome and women’s rights remain intact!
    3) The quote "Well Behaved Women…." was from Ulrich’s book in which she was writing about women in reliqion and the underheralded positive part that they have played throughout history. 
    How ironic to ever have anyone use this to justify a limit on women and their ability to make their own decisions about their reproduction…in fact it is intended to say we should celebrate their power and real role in making history…give us your trust and let us keep the power to control our own lives…
    Paul,(of pro life Catholics) you will never face this personal decision and I am glad that my faith (the ELCA wing of the Lutheran Church) trusts me to make this decision and let God and I work it out in my life.  I believe God is pro choice otherwise we would all belong to the same church.  I am glad He led Martin Luther to start mine.
  • jodi-jacobson

    On the issue of the Gallup poll.  She raises the same points as does Ann’s comment.

     

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/05/29/the-ballot-box-the-poll-that-matters-most

     

    Jodi Jacobson

  • invalid-0

    Paul…the hippo in the corner remains…there is no law that can “equalize” the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy. Dad may or may not be on the hook financially, but HIS choices are far greater. He has the right to non-participation at every level, except possibly the financial.

    Care to comment?

  • paul-bradford

    The only law I’ve ever considered that might "e qualize" matters is a law that would make it a crime for a man to impregnate a woman against her will.  When you come right down to it, the logic that leads us to understand that it’s criminal to force a woman to have sex against her will ought to lead us to conclude that it’s criminal to force a woman to conceive a baby against her will. 

     

    Imagine if women had the right to consent to sex but not to motherhood.  That would put the burden of preventing conception on the man.  I think that would seriously lower the number of unintended pregnancies.

     

    Your thoughts? 

      

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    Paul, thank you for this. I do not think I have ever enjoyed a post more. Disarmed as I am…I think it best that I just get back with you later. Again, thanks.

  • invalid-0

    I’m of the opinion that there are many ‘anti-abortion’ enthusiasts who have no right to call themselves “Pro-Lifers” … I would rather participate in a rally for Life that had ten people who were Pro-Life through and through than ten thousand whose commitment to Life Principles only coincided with concern about those not yet born and were wishy-washy about the other Life concerns.

    That’s certainly a position I can respect, although no one in the political realm would accede to it. This is more or less the situation in a number of European countries, where abortion is legal, and only a vocal but marginal minority are opposed to it. A “post-abortion-debate” scenario.

    A conceptus is ‘small and insubstantial’ but there aren’t so many of them that it would be impossible to give them good care. According to my arithmetic, four hundred zygotes are formed every hour — that’s throughout the entire United States.

    It’s not an issue of having resources to take care of zygotes (although free, universal prenatal care would be a swell thing to have). It’s about when people “care” about that zygote so much that they’re willing to run roughshod over the wishes and autonomy of the female person in which it resides. (Which, of course, shows why this “care” is disingenuous and deserves scare-quotes in the first place.)

    A zygote, unlike an ant, is able to develop into an adult human being so I think we’re not being Jainsically hyper-vigilant to take pains with these ‘small and insubstantial’ treasures.

    A single carriage bolt can become an entire car, if you build around it. That doesn’t mean that that one bolt has a value anywhere near that of the finished car. Who do you think pays the labor and materials costs?

    Please read my blog entry Does the Church Have Compassion from March 16. The fact that the Church has a number of bishops who aren’t ‘up to the job’

    What “job?” Ensuring that the Church maintains a good public image? The Vatican never even bothered to get involved until the entire world called them out. What Fisichella said was damage control, not any of the self-examination that the Church so desperately needs. Wake me when the Church actually decides to hold a theological conference on the matter, and releases a papal pronouncement that changes the status quo. The most I expect from them is that the next time an incident like this occurs, the bishops will keep their traps shut, because they know the moral deck is stacked against them.

    doesn’t give me an excuse to slack off on my responsibility to the civil rights of my fellow human beings.

    A category which includes zygotes less than a minute old, and yet excludes pregnant women who do not want to be pregnant. As much concern as you have for the former, why do you not have even more concern for a fully-grown being, who can actually think, can actually feel, and can hold a perfectly valid view of her own pregnancy that is at odds with yours?

    The biggest area of disagreement between you and me, I think, is not around the issue of what the Church does so much as it is why she does what she does. We arrive at different conclusions because I don’t believe that the impetus for Church action comes from the hierarchy of celibate males. I think it comes from God’s merciful desire that we should all be happy. You and I will agree that this impetus is mediated through the actions of individual Catholics who are, of course, vulnerable to every sort of shortcoming known to humanity.

    Yes. Like lack of empathy. Not fully comprehending what it is to force a woman to carry a pregnancy she does not want, to hold something within her body to be more important than herself, when one is a male, and is thus categorically excluded from ever being in such a position himself.

    At the end of the day, Paul, what you’re gunning for is women carrying pregnancies that they do not want. Like most pro-lifers, you use Hallmark-card language to lay this out—“civil rights,” “small treasures,” and so on—but when it comes down to brass tacks, it’s about a woman who wants an abortion being wheedled or pressured or forced in a direction that she would not have chosen for herself. There is nothing that you can experience as a male that mirrors what pregnancy is like for a woman, so you will never know how horrific it can be when it happens to you and you are not willing to see it through. When you think about this issue, you have the luxury of focusing on things like zygotes, and excluding the person in whose uterus it resides. Pregnancy is sufficiently abstract a concept for you that you can think of it as involving two people, whose location relative to one another is mere coincidence.

    I’m a male too. The difference between you and me, however, is that I’m willing to empathize with the pregnant woman. When she says that she really doesn’t want to go through with this pregnancy, when I learn that millions of women seek out illegal abortions often at the cost of their own lives, I say to myself, “Whoa, she really is serious about not wanting to go through with this.” When I imagine pregnancy being something that can happen to me, the very idea that random people can demand that I go through with all that when I don’t want to is utterly infuriating—it’s like chutzpah gone nuclear for them to deny me a perfectly valid medical option to avoid a huge and complicated change to my body’s physiology.

    So what do I do? I listen to the woman. I respect what she wants. I don’t presume that I know better than her, or that what I want for her is necessarily the right thing. I certainly don’t start talking up the “tiny treasure” inside her if it’s a source of anxiety for her and she wants to be rid of it as soon as possible. In other words… I treat the woman like a grown, mature human being.

    Are there Church authorities who are more terrified of “horny promiscuous women” than they are of disappointing God’s will that we should all be joyful? I expect that there are. But I also know that the job of every faithful person is to generate joy and that’s what my top priority is.

    Paulie, you’re doing a heck of a job.

    • paul-bradford

      A category which includes zygotes less than a minute old, and yet excludes pregnant women who do not want to be pregnant. As much concern as you have for the former, why do you not have even more concern for a fully-grown being, who can actually think, can actually feel, and can hold a perfectly valid view of her own pregnancy that is at odds with yours? 

       

      You’ve made some comments here that I believe are truly hurtful.  I don’t think you even realize you’ve done it because it’s obvious to me from the way you post that you don’t intend to say hurtful things.

       

      The fact that a very young person who’s "a minute old" or a week old or a month old or three months old isn’t "fully grown", able "to think" or able "to feel" does not make her or him subhuman.  You’re statement, even though I don’t believe you meant this, is extremely ageist and discriminatory.  A zygote is an entire human body, a member of the human race.  A zygote is capable of doing things that you can no longer do (such as divide and become twins) and is not capable of things you can do easily.  The zygote doesn’t posses anything we would call consciousness or volition but those aren’t the things that make us human.  We’re human if we possess a living human body and a zygote does.

       

      The body I have today is the same body I had when I was a zygote.  Time has allowed me to develop and change and age but I never got a different body than the one I started with.  That simple fact allows me to ‘identify’ with the four million or so very young people currently living in the United States.

       

      What does it mean to extend ‘civil rights’ to another person?  It just means following the ‘Golden Rule’, treating others the way I would want to be treated.  I’m glad that my body was protected and nurtured until I was able to become "fully grown" and to "think" and "feel" so I want others to have that blessing.  I also have the belief, although this hasn’t come up in our conversation, that the very young can’t be protected through laws restricting abortion.  They can only be protected if we have a ‘sea change’ in attitude.

       

      What you’re not taking into consideration when you question my concern for the well being of a woman facing an unintended pregnancy is that I am deeply convinced that women should be protected from becoming mothers if that’s not their choice (just as I believe that men should be protected from becoming fathers if they don’t want the responsibility).  I don’t dispute a woman’s "view of her own pregnancy".  If she says it’s an unwelcome burden I have no trouble believing or accepting that fact.

       

      The fact that I’m concerned about the child’s viewpoint doesn’t mean I can’t understand or don’t care about the mother’s viewpoint.  My viewpoint is that the more effectively a society promotes parental responsibility, the more just, humane and responsive that society is.  I don’t think you can promote parental responsibility through anti-abortion statutes alone, (See my piece, "Why I Am Pro-Choice" from May 19) but I’m constantly on the lookout for finding ways to assert that getting parents to set aside their own interests for the well being of their children should be a bottom line, non-negotiable fact of life for a sane society.

       

      Paul Bradford

      Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    You’ve made some comments here that I believe are truly hurtful. I don’t think you even realize you’ve done it because it’s obvious to me from the way you post that you don’t intend to say hurtful things.

    Right back at you, vis-a-vis pregnant women who don’t want to be pregnant. You want them to “choose life,” without knowing, without caring what the circumstances of their lives are. It doesn’t matter what they have to say, because you already know what the right answer is for them.

    The fact that a very young person who’s “a minute old” or a week old or a month old or three months old isn’t “fully grown”, able “to think” or able “to feel” does not make her or him subhuman. You’re statement, even though I don’t believe you meant this, is extremely ageist and discriminatory.

    Are you for real? This is like something out of a Monty Python skit. If I don’t want to hire a dessicated corpse as an office clerk, am I engaging in age discrimination? Am I guilty of “livingism?” (I’d throw in some “pining for the fjords” references here, but alas, I don’t remember the sketch.)

    A zygote is an entire human body, a member of the human race. A zygote is capable of doing things that you can no longer do (such as divide and become twins) and is not capable of things you can do easily. The zygote doesn’t posses anything we would call consciousness or volition but those aren’t the things that make us human. We’re human if we possess a living human body and a zygote does.

    Paul, you epitomize the person who follows the letter of a definition while having completely lost sight of the spirit of it. If you want to believe that the state of being a human being can be extended all the way back to being a zygote, then that is your prerogative. But for me, and for most people, this position is at odds with common sense, and dismisses nearly everything that defines the human experience. (For starters, most people consider having a working brain to be a fairly important component of being an entity whose life should be protected by moral and legal pronouncements.)

    I’m not going to argue why you shouldn’t think this way, because it is ultimately a point of faith, and trying to change a point of faith is the ultimate experience in wall-talking. But I will say, don’t expect much in the way of making this rather oddball view of your meaningful to society at large. Many more people think pork is an abomination than will ever think of zygotes as tiny little human beings, and yet pork can be bought at every corner supermarket without controversy.

    The body I have today is the same body I had when I was a zygote. Time has allowed me to develop and change and age but I never got a different body than the one I started with. That simple fact allows me to ‘identify’ with the four million or so very young people currently living in the United States.

    I’m glad that you’ve found a belief system that works for you.

    What you’re not taking into consideration when you question my concern for the well being of a woman facing an unintended pregnancy is that I am deeply convinced that women should be protected from becoming mothers if that’s not their choice

    Except that you’re still going to apply moral and social pressure on them to have the child, and give it up for adoption, rather than just have an abortion. You’d leave them the choice, but not a free choice. Hey, women who got pregnant out of wedlock in the 50s could choose not to marry the father… I wonder why so few of them did.

    I don’t dispute a woman’s “view of her own pregnancy”. If she says it’s an unwelcome burden I have no trouble believing or accepting that fact.

    Not that it would ever stop you from pressing her not to abort it anyway.

    I’m constantly on the lookout for finding ways to assert that getting parents to set aside their own interests for the well being of their children should be a bottom line, non-negotiable fact of life for a sane society.

    So you oppose abortion under the guise of “promoting parental responsibility.” To which, all I can say is, I’m happy that there are millions of “irresponsible” parents in this country—and that realistically speaking, your views have little chance of ever making it to public policy.

    Good day, Paul, I’m done here. I might not have convinced you of anything, but at least you’ve convinced me that your particular soft-peddled brand of misogyny is ultimately harmless.

  • invalid-0

    “It’s unacceptable for even one woman to suffer in order for opponents of abortion to be appeased.”

    This.

    I personally refuse to be pregnant or bear children. I also refuse to be celibate. This means that I use contraception – whether anybody else likes it or not. It also means that, if my contraception fails, I will end the pregnancy as soon as possible – again, whether anybody else likes it or not.

    As an agnostic, I’m not sure there is a “God” – so your arguments about what “God” supposedly wants will not move me.

    I don’t give a rat’s rear end about the supposed “baby”. If it got into my uterus without my permission, then as far as I’m concerned that’s breaking and entering. If somebody broke into my house, that would be considered illegal. Breaking into my body is the same thing, as far as I’m concerned.

  • http://www.aspectcarrental.com/car_hire_uk.html invalid-0

    I doubt that age old argument will ever be approached with the casualness Obama brought to the table. It is not simply two opinions that are being argued here, there is right and there is wrong, and Obama wants to gloss over the wrong to make it appear “ok”. Sheesh, it will never be ok. This is such a tired subject that hasn’t gone anywhere in years, its the same argument.